Without a doubt, modifying any vehicle is expensive, especially when replacing large ticket items like bumpers. Before making this purchase, I researched several manufactures to insure I would be satisfied with my decision. After reading posts on forums and other social media sites and speaking with people running aftermarket bumpers from various manufacturers, I narrowed it down to one company.
Metal Tech 4x4 was the victor! I was already familiar with their product reliability and durability since using their sliders on the FJ. I figured that same craftsmanship would transfer into their bumpers as well. I also liked the deign and look of their tube bumpers.
Now lets review each product a little more in-depth.
In my opinion, these sliders are terrific. They bolt to the frame of the vehicle and the mounts are incredibly solid. The sliders themselves are very strong, look great, and do a fantastic job protecting the FJ. There were multiple times while wheeling I came down on the sliders incredibly hard. I also used them to get over obstacles and even used them to slide around large rocks, trees, and tree roots all without any damage to the FJ. They held up every time I needed them. Of course, blemishes would happen after heavy use, but cleaning up any "trail rash" was simple. Using sand paper and black spray paint gave them that new look again.
Just like most sliders, you can lift the entire side of the vehicle up using a Hi-Lift jack. Something to consider before hand though: If you do this and you have the ability, I would suggest opening the door on the side you're lifting from. In the event the jack fails, it won't slam into the closed door and damage it. You'll notice in the pictures below, my door is closed. I was given that advice after the pictures were taken.
Another thing I like about these sliders is the protection they offer in parking lots. The Metal Tech 4x4 slider with 2 stage rub rail has a "kick out" welded to them which causes them to stick out even further. I cannot tell you how many times I walked out to my FJ after eating, watching a movie or whatever else (NOT AT THE MALL) and seen a paint mark on the slider. I know that's from some jerk who threw his door open without a care in the world and nailed my sliders. No damage to the FJ, but I am sure that donkey had a nice ding in his door. Every time I saw this, it brought a smile to my face.
I used the front bumper with winch mount, along with the built-in recovery points to recover stuck vehicles, myself, and move downed trees on the trails without any failures. In my opinion it is one of the better looking tube bumpers on the market for the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Aside from looks, the bumper design is strong and well built, allowing for more confidence on and off road.
It is a two piece design which makes installation and possible future maintenance easier, not to mention better strength. The winch mount/plate (referred to as "plate" from this point forward) and the bumper both mount independently to the frame of the FJ. Once the winch plate is bolted on and installed, then you can install the winch. From there, slide the front tube bump on, bolt it up and you are good to go! Installation is rather simple.
Now getting back to the strength part. I like the fact that the winch plate bolts to the frame independently and not to the bumper itself. While winching, most of the torque is applied to the frame of the vehicle verses the bumper. In my opinion, some bumpers that have built in winch plates could possibly fail sooner than those where the winch plate mounts to the frame. Another thing I like about it mounting to the frame is it seems to put the winch lower on the vehicle. I feel this helps reduce the center of gravity slightly (winching at odd angles) and helps to reduce the amount of pressure on the front suspension, bumper, and other parts. It also puts most of the energy and torque low on the frame of the vehicle. Having said all that, I have not seen a failure in other bumpers or winch plates in person.
The newer Metal Tech 4x4 front tube bumper with winch mount has two recovery points welded onto the winch plate. I like where they put the recovery points. They are lower on the on the vehicle and welded directly to the winch plate. My reasons for liking the location of the recovery points are the same as the winch plate. I have not seen a recovery point welded to a bumper fail in person, but I have heard and read about it several times.
The Metal Tech 4x4 front tube bumper with winch mount has several light tab mounts welded on to it. It has a total of four light tabs (two on each side) mounted lower on the bumper and two light tab mounts on the top center of the bumper. For me, the most time-consuming part of installation was spent running wire and mounting all of my lights (I like lights).
It has a good approach angle, easy to keep clean, light weight, looks great, and does a good job protecting the FJ. I have hit several trees (smaller trees) without damaging the bumper or FJ. On one of my wheeling trips, I made contact with a rocky, dirt wall and the bumper did it's job. It took the impact, protecting the front drivers side fender. It was a small hit, but a hit none the less. I am positive if I did not have the bumper, I would have broken the front turn signal housing and damaged the front drivers side fender.
Once I came off the trail and changed my pants, I inspected the rig. To my surprise, the front bumper was just fine. There were no visible signs of damage. Once again the bumper did its job and protected the FJ.
Just like the sliders, I cleaned up any "trail rash" the same way using sand paper and black spray paint.
*Note: If you do decide to go with a Metal Tech 4x4 or other bumper, be cautious how much He-Man strength you give on the front frame bolts. To no fault of Metal Tech 4x4 or Toyota, I over tightened the bolt and broke the frame stud off. Even though I did seven push ups that morning, it was not my muscles that broke it, it was the impact I was using. Lessons learned.
Just like the rest of their products, this rear bumper is very well built. In my opinion, there are better looking options on the market for a Toyota FJ Cruiser, but those are typically "plate style" bumpers. In terms of tube bumpers, I believe Metal Tech 4x4 has the best looking one. I also believe theirs offers the most strength and protection, especial the side wings.
This one piece bumper makes installation and possible maintenance in the future easier. It has a built in, low profile receiver for towing, which is nice. It allows for installation of the factory back up sensors on the rear cover plate. It also has two recovery points welded onto it. Installation was very simple and straight forward. The longest part of installation was removing the factory bumper.
The Metal Tech 4x4 rear tube bumper is amazingly strong and can take a beating. I have come down extremely hard onto rocks while on trails and the bumper took the hits. It did not dent or bend the tubing at all. Although it is designed to flex, it does not flex into the body.
Another thing I like about the rear bumper is the side protection it offers. I have damaged the "wings" on the side of the bumper by sliding into trees, rocks, and other obstacles. Again, the bumper took all of the force and held strong without flexing into the body. I can't tell you how many trees (smaller trees) I have backed into without damaging the bumper or FJ.
The bumper does not have any light mounts, but I did add a pair of Rigid SR-M's by bolting them to the bumper and wiring them into the reverse lights. The lights are tucked up high enough that they are protected by the bumper, but still maintain a good angle for light output.
There is no telling how many times it saved the FJ from damage. The only issue I had with the rear bumper is when I upgraded to a larger tire size (Nitto Trail Grappler 295/70/17).
The spare tire would not fit on the back door mount because it made contact with the bumper. In order to mount the larger tire, I added a 2" wheel spacer on the mount itself. I then used washers on the two bottom bolts of the mount. I placed them between the mount and rear door to create a slight angle up. After doing this, the spare tire fit on the mount without contacting the bumper. Down side, it pushed the weight of the spare tire further out, but I never noticed damage to the door, hinges or mount.
Overall, I was more than happy with my Metal Tech 4x4 sliders and bumpers. They were functional pieces of equipment that offered great protection and looked good. I had no desire to change the sliders or the front bumper. I was contemplating upgrading the rear bumper though. If I had done that, I would have opted with the Metal Tech 4x4 Red Eye with swing out and optional fuel can rack.
Before I could make the switch, we rolled the FJ Cruiser while on a road trip from Washington state to Colorado in January of 2017. The FJ was totaled following the accident, but the bumpers and sliders made it out undamaged. To read that article, please click here: Roll Over
The front bumper and sliders were later removed and sold. Unfortunately, due to insurance reasons, the rear bumper stayed on the FJ. Plus side, the FJ was later purchased through an auction and shipped overseas where it was rebuilt and currently in use, with the Metal Tech 4x4 rear bumper still on! Worked out well for the new owner. To read that article, please click here: The FJ Lives!
We now have a 2005 Lexus GX470 that we will build and turn into our next adventure vehicle. We plan on doing even larger trips in GX then we did in the FJ Cruiser. As such, we will be searching for the best equipment to outfit that rig. To read about our Lexus, please click here: Lexus GX470
Due to my personal experience with Metal Tech 4x4, I will trust their products to protect the GX just like I did with the FJ.
To learn more about Metal Tech 4x4 or view their large selection of Toyota specific products, please visit their website by clicking here: Metal Tech 4x4
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Baker and Ashlie are the owners of Bourn Adventure and together they author the majority of the articles and content found here.